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Optometrist’s gross negligence manslaughter conviction quashed by the Court of Appeal

Cases 8 Aug 17

Ian Stern QC leading Sandesh Singh (instructed by Stokoe Partnership) represented Honey Rose in her successful appeal against her conviction for gross negligence manslaughter.

Mrs Rose was the first optometrist ever to be prosecuted for manslaughter. The Court of Appeal quashed the conviction on the basis that the submission of no case to answer made at trial ought to have been allowed and the case withdrawn from the jury at the close of the prosecution case.

The Court of Appeal clarified the law in relation to reasonable foreseeability in cases of gross negligence manslaughter. The Court concluded that:

“[…] in assessing reasonable foreseeability of serious and obvious risk of death in cases of gross negligence manslaughter, it is not appropriate to take into account what the defendant would have known but for his or her breach of duty. Were the answer otherwise, this would fundamentally undermine the established legal test of foreseeability in gross negligence manslaughter which requires proof of a “serious and obvious risk of death” at the time of breach. The implications for medical and other professions would be serious because people would be guilty of gross negligence manslaughter by reason of negligent omissions to carry out routine eye, blood and other tests which in fact would have revealed fatal conditions notwithstanding that the circumstances were such that it was not reasonably foreseeable that failure to carry out such tests would carry an obvious and serious risk of death.”

The judgment is reported at [2017] EWCA Crim 1618.

For further information about the case please see:

Cases | 8 Aug 17

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Ian Stern KC

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